11.9.07

banana leaves & brick walls.

it sounds like it's raining nearly all the time. Raindrops on a tent roof; tiny fingers beating out irregular rhythms outside our open window. Instead, it is just the wind blowing through the plantain leaves. I have learned that real rain is much louder on a tin roof. More like balled fists flooding our rooftop & front steps, then beating down the ground around them.

I have just battled my way through my first rwandan downpour to reach the market, my feet & ankles coated in a burnt orange mud.

we have taken this week to organize & orient ourselves. although I still feel a little lost in terms of both. So i have decided to update as often as i can, as soon i will have less time on my hands.

The most immediate struggle i have come up against is language. Whoever told me english was at all prevelant here, was lying through their teeth. It is an incredibly isolating feeling, when language is not a barrier, but rather a brick wall. My french is horrendous, but considerably more useful than my english. Despite being frusterated, i will attempt to face this all as one big challenge to better myself, but it is difficult when you can barely communicate with your roommates, aside from hand gestures. I am slightly dreading the school environment, where the students apparently only speak kinyarwanda. go team!

cue cards? check.

english on one side, french & kinyarwanda on the other. I intend to return to canada, as trilingual! (hah.)

I have already learned some kinyarwanda. Muraho means hello. Amakuru means how are you. and Mzungu means white (ie. my second name at the moment). Literally.... i step outside our yard, into empty back streets and i still her the far off call of "mzungu" despite the fact I cannot see ANYONE. Kids are by far the best. I have been hugged, high fived, and had timid attempts at english, more than i can remember.

However, the most entertaining, but most terrifying moment was last night. Kathryn & I decided to go for a walk after dinner, and ended up on the main road running through kicukiro. Imagine a two lane road with the level of traffic and intesity of speed as the 401, that you walk up along a thin gravel shoulder. (If I wanted i could reach out and high-five the passing motorists. Funny thing. I don't want to). Now, insert a CLAN of tiny children (all under the age of five) chanting "mzungu!" in high pitched voices on the opposite side of said street. NOW imagine these this giant group of tiny-baby-children darting between the traffic to get to your side of the street, still sqealing "mzungu!" while scampering infront of mac trucks and motor taxis. Despite our best efforts to stop them, we were soon surrounded, by a dozen grinning faces (some of which covered in stickers?) gripping eachother, bouncing with excitement. We attempted to engage them in conversation, but they had all fallen silent, with the exception of some giggling. After making sure they had gotten back across safely we continued on our way. I'd like to say this was an isolated incident, but i'm sure it won't be. And minus the involvement of high speed traffic, i really don't mind.

Well, we're going to attempt to venture into Centre-ville this afternoon(downtown - not a lame attempt at an amusement park on the toronto islands) , via the mini-buses (ie. delapitated mini-vans coated with people) to buy a phone and register with the Canadian Embassy.

Wish me luck!

l.

7 comments:

sarah said...

Tiny-baby-children! Mzungu, you make me laugh. Thank you for the entertaining-to-read updates too! Yay!

I read on Wikipedia yesterday that the mini-buses are scary. Oh no!

Much love! Now I'm off to try and fix my passport issues. (It's 6am! Ah!)

Mom said...

Wow - a little scary with children running over a busy road but they probably do this frequently. Still...not safe. Love the stickers on their faces! It is always a joy to see happy children-Mzungu You! So many photo ops. Can you buy film there if you need it? I see a book coming from this adventure. Centreville will be fascinating -looking forward to hearing all about it.Hand on tight to the mini-buses. love and prayers.Jack would send a hug and kiss, too, but he's napping(: He had no patience to read your blog with me. A picture or two would help, I guess.

Rosalie said...

so we have to figure out what the time difference is between where you are and where i am seeing as i woke up to find an msn msg from you and was so disappointed to have missed you.

your blog makes me laugh, i feel like it is doing you a world of good to be somewhere where everything is new and exciting, despite language barriers and such.

i still miss you terribly, my mzungu but the image of you being flocked by little children warms my heart and makes me laugh a little.

be good, take care and keep writing (this blog makes you feel a little closer!)

love love love

neen said...

What adventures you are having! Did you try to sing to the children? Enjoy! Enjoy
Love Aunt Neen

Christine said...

Mzungu, Je t'aime! I love hearing your voice in your blog. Hope the log flume at Centreville was everything you hoped it would be.
Love you, isn't that what I said before in French?
xo
C

Tristan said...

laura menzungu.

Anonymous said...

i love you. thinking of you often these days of culture shock.

let me know if you want me to speak to you en francais from now on haha

Jo xo